The Education and Culture Ministry’s Higher Education directorate general issued a circular on Friday calling on university students not to take part in protests related to the controversial Job Creation Law and asking university leaders to promote the newly passed law.
“Considering the latest situation regarding the issuance of the Job Creation Law, we appeal to university students not to take part in any protest that could endanger the students’ health and safety during the pandemic,” the letter, signed by Higher Education director general Nizam, read.
The letter also asked university leaders to help promote the content of the jobs law and encourage academic studies of the law.
“Thoughts and aspirations from campuses should be conveyed to the government and the House in a polite manner,” the letter continued.
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It also instructed lecturers not to encourage their students to join or organize rallies and urged parents to ensure their children were carrying out at-home online studies.
Nizam said the letter was to remind universities to ensure the health and safety of people on campus but said students who chose to take part in the protests would not be sanctioned.
“Of course there will be no sanctions. Freedom of expression is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, as a young intellectual, it’s better and more elegant to do academic research than rally. It’s time to be different to make changes,” he said.
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Last year, then-Education and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy circulated a similar letter, advising students to not take part in additional rallies following the #reformasidikorupsi (reform corrupted) protests in September 2019. The Minister also advised teachers and parents to discourage students from participating in rallies.
The House and the government passed the contentious Job Creation Law on Monday following a rushed deliberation that sparked public anger. Thousands of people, mostly university students and members of labor groups, took to the streets throughout the country from Tuesday to Thursday to protest the law.